eSports Build Community and Strengthen Relationships

eSports Build Community and Strengthen Relationships

Especially for people with chronic illness, gaming can open a whole new world

Many parents don’t see the appeal of online gaming, especially in light of headlines focusing on game addiction, privacy breaches and predatory relationships. I get it: To an outsider, the world of gaming can seem senseless and scary. But there’s another side – especially for people with chronic illness, gaming can open your world to new people, new experiences, and a new sense of community that can be hard to find offline.

In many ways, this is nothing new – the relationship that gamers have with their online worlds a lot like the relationship that previous generations had with sports. You pick – basketball, football, soccer – whichever one draws you in. Just as each sport has its own rules, terms, and dedicated followings, there’s an online game for everyone, ranging from multiplayer battle arenas and puzzle card games to single-player survival stories and galaxy-traversing quests. Gamers bond in these worlds just as sports fans bond over the shared love of their team. In addition to strengthening existing friendships by battling or taking down bosses together, gaming also sparks new friendships and connections around a shared hobby.

Whether it stems from chatting on Discord (the gamer equivalent of Slack), talking strategy on a forum, or giving a head-nod to someone on the street with a shirt that references your game, there’s an immediate connection, a bit of an effortless bond. It’s like high-fiving a fellow Lakers fan or talking stats with someone you just met because they’re wearing a Seahawks jersey.

esports packed arena

Like ESPN, gamers even have their own network. Twitch is a live-streaming video platform that lets viewers follow their favorite gamers as they play in real-time, watch tournaments, and catch up on the highlights of previous games. Plus, rather than just cheering from the sidelines or listening to the commentators, Twitch allows users to listen to many commenters, engage with other fans, and even get exclusives from the pros themselves. Imagine if instead of just watching Steph Curry’s highlights from the latest game, you could take a peek into his training routines, ask him questions about his life philosophies, or even chat with him!

Today, eSports stars and pro gamers like SodaPoppin and Ninja are the Lebrons and Kobes of our generation – their games, vlogs, and interviews bring in millions of viewers, not to mention millions of dollars. Teams and tournaments are frequently sponsored by companies like Intel, Coca-Cola, and T-Mobile, and some teams like Echo Fox are even owned by professional teams from the NFL, NBA, and MLB. 

As an avid gamer for the last 10 years, I’ve found a rich community of passionate gamers based on connection, sharing, and learning from each other. The online gaming community makes it okay to fail, try again, and laugh about your mistakes with other fans. Not only can you build new friendships, you can also learn from others and join a group of people that are just as passionate as you are.